Chrysalis celebrates 20th anniversary

The Nature Conservation Corporation all-female firefighters pose with Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz and Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez.

The Chrysalis Academy in Constantia is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz unveiled a banner at the academy in Constantia on Wednesday January 8 in honour of the occasion.

He was joined by Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez, Chrysalis CEO, Dr Lucille Meyer, and Chrysalis founder, Mark Wiley.

“Chrysalis Academy has come a long way over the past 20 years, and many of its graduates can be found in all sectors of society. Under the
leadership and guidance of founder Mark Wiley and CEO Dr Meyer, Chrysalis has become a life-changing experience for many young and vulnerable youth. It provides them
with a sense of self-worth, upliftment and purpose. It also challenges youth to live a more active and productive lifestyle,” Mr Fritz said.

The youth-development project has trained and provided opportunities to more than 10 000 young people since 2000.

One of the graduates is Nicole Pietersen, who is working as an intern under Ms Fernandez.

Ms Pietersen grew up in Macassar, where she says she witnessed her mother’s suffering at the hands of an abusive partner.

“I grew up questioning why this is happening to me, but I really believe that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for everything that I have overcome.”

Her life came to a standstill when her mother committed suicide in 2015.

“I was finishing off my N5 course in HR at Boland College when she took her life. Over the years, I tried to help her, I didn’t understand
why she could not get out of that relationship.”

While mourning the death of her mother, herboyfriend’s mother, who had studied psychology, told her about the Chrysalis Academy.

“She recommended it to me because her daughter had been a graduate from the 2018 programme. Initially, I thought I was only going
there for counselling, but I found that I was being counselled through all the classes. I never even sat once in the psychologist’s chair. The classes were on outdoor activities, personal mastery, emotional intelligence and a lot more. They taught me so much about myself, and I was around 200 other women who had faced similar challenges.”

The Chrysalis Academy
runs a three-month residential programme for 18 – 25-year-olds and includes life skills, time spent outdoors, vocational and work readiness training plus therapeutic
care.

The graduates are placed in different Expanded Public Works Programme internships across the Western Cape (“Graduation at Chrysalis Academy,” Constantiaberg Bulletin, November 28 2019).

Ms Pietersen said after completing the course last year, she was selected to speak at the graduation ceremony in November.

“I initially was placed to be on the community police forum in Grabouw after finishing the course. But after MEC Fernandez listened to my speech, sharing my life, she said she wanted me to come work for her as an intern here in the City. I am so grateful to be where I am today.”